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CWHL Draft Preview - what it is and who to watch

The second of a series of articles about the CWHL draft. This article covers how the draft works and identifies some of the star prospects.

Canadian Women's Hockey League round logo CWHL

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

The 2016 CWHL draft takes place this Sunday afternoon at the Mastercard Centre.

There won't be players sitting in Rink 1 anxiously wondering whether they're getting drafted at all - everyone who paid their registration fee and is still on the list (one player has withdrawn and two have signed as NWHL practice players since the list was finalized) will be drafted by a team. On the other hand, this is not a no-stakes event carried out solely through social media. So, how does the CWHL draft work?

79 players, 5 teams, 16 rounds - that's how the math works out. In a league that isn't yet paying player salaries, it's not possible to require a player who lives and works full-time in Calgary to play in Boston. Players who register for the draft are allowed to select up to three "Acceptable Locations" where they would be both willing and financially able to play. This means some teams will be drafting more players than others. The 2015 draft involved nine full rounds and four partial rounds that involved three teams or fewer.

There are four Acceptable Locations in the league: Calgary (Inferno), Montréal (Canadiennes), Boston (Blades) and the Greater Toronto Area (Furies and Thunder). With two teams, the GTA counts as two choices. Since players can (and likely many do) select only one Acceptable Location, the CWHL doesn't release player choices prior to the draft. It adds a little extra drama to the proceedings, but some educated guesses can be made. Very few Canadiennes fans expect to see Alberta-born, Boston-educated Emerance Maschmeyer in bleu blanc et rouge.

The real drama on Sunday will come from the Furies and the Thunder. Players that choose the GTA have no control over which team will pick them. GTA draft picks have weight - last season Toronto traded their 2016 fourth round pick to Brampton for goalie Sonja van der Bliek.

It's drama that will play out in person, at least for some players. The CWHL invites players they've identified as "elite" to attend, so there will be an actual jersey-donning aspect for the first few rounds. The league has tweeted about twelve draft prospects this year, so it's a safe bet that most of them will be in Toronto this Sunday.

Quick profiles of all twelve are below, including my best guess at the Acceptable Locations. Have a look, pick some favourites, and tune in on Sunday via twitter or on the CWHL Draft Tracker to see if I'm right.

Erin Ambrose, Defence

Erin Ambrose playing for Clarkson University courtesy CWHL

Drafted by the New York Riveters in the third round of the 2015 NWHL draft, Erin Ambrose was the captain of the Canadian U-18 2011-12 team that has many alumnae on this year's list.

Age:22 Hometown: Keswick, ON

Previous team: Clarkson University (NCAA Division 1)

International experience: Team Canada U-18 (2009-2012), NWDT (2012-2014, 2015), Four Nations Cup 2014

Most likely Acceptable Locations: GTA, Montreal

Other profiles: Clarkson University, CWHL, Today's Slapshot, EOTP


Ariane Barker, Right Wing

Ariane Barker playing for the UdeM Carabins courtesy CWHL

One of two CIS players expected to be in Toronto for the draft, Ariane Barker was the first Université de Montréal player to be named MVP of university women's hockey by the Quebec Student Sport Federation (RSEQ).

Age: 23 Hometown: Napierville, QC

Previous team: Université de Montréal (CIS)

International experience: CIS Team, 2014-15 Universiade

Most likely Acceptable Locations: Montreal

Other profiles: Université de Montréal


Michela Cava, Forward

Michela Cava in UMD Bulldogs uniform courtesy CWHL

Michela Cava was the leading goal scorer on the UMD Bulldogs for the 2015-16 season.

Age: 22 Hometown: Thunder Bay, ON

Previous team: University of Minnesota-Duluth (NCAA Division 1)

Most likely Acceptable Locations: GTA

Other profiles: Duluth News Tribune


Renata Fast, Defence

Renata Fast courtesy CWHL

Recently signed as a skills coach with her old PWHL team, the Burlington Jr Barracudas, Renata Fast holds the record for the quickest goal in NCAA Tournament History (10 seconds from puck drop).

Age: 21 Hometown: Burlington, ON

Previous team: Clarkson University, (NCAA Division 1)

International experience: Team Canada NWDT (2012-13, 2014-16), Four Nations Cup (2015)

Most likely Acceptable Locations: GTA

Other profiles: Clarkson University, CWHL, Today's Slapshot, EOTP


Iya Gavrilova, Centre

Iya Gavrilova playing for the UofC Dinos courtesy CWHL

This thirteen-year veteran of the Russian Women's National team played alongside Hayley Wickenheiser on the University of Calgary Dinos. She's likely to do so again on the Inferno.

Age: 28 Hometown: Krasnoyarsk, Russia

Previous team: University of Calgary (CIS)

International experience: Team Russia 2003-present (currently Assistant Captain) including 10 Women's World Hockey Championships and 3 Olympic Games. Russian Team, 2014-15 Universiade (Captain)

Most likely Acceptable Locations: Calgary, Toronto

Other profiles: University of Calgary, Calgary Herald


Sarah Lefort, Left Wing

Sarah Lefort playing for the BU Terrier courtesy CWHL

Another prospect selected in 2015 NWHL draft (Beauts), this past season Sarah Lefort set the Boston University scoring record, passing Marie-Philip Poulin.

Age: 22 Hometown: Ormstown, QC

Previous team: Boston University (NCAA Division 1)

International experience: Team Canada U-18 (2011-2012), NWDT (2012-15) Four Nations Cup (2015)

Most likely Acceptable Locations: Montreal, Boston

Other profiles: Boston University, Today's Slapshot


Shannon MacAulay, Forward

Shannon MacAulay in Clarkson University uniform courtesy CWHL

The only player from PEI in this year's draft, Shannon MacAulay hosted a hockey school back home this summer. She was selected by the Boston Pride in the NWHL 2015 draft.

Age: 22 Hometown: Mt Herbert, PEI

Previous team: Clarkson University, (NCAA Division 1)

International experience: Team Canada U-18 (2011-2012), NWDT (2014-16)

Most likely Acceptable Locations: Montreal, GTA

Other profiles: Clarkson University, CWHL, Hockey PEI


Emerance Maschmeyer, Goalie

Emerance Maschmeyer making a save for Harvard University courtesy CWHL

After her performance at this year's World Championships, Emerance Maschmeyer is the biggest name in this year's draft. She'll be the second player in her family to play in the CWHL. Older sister Brittaney was a member of the inaugural roster of Team Alberta.

Age: 21 Hometown: Bruderheim, AB

Previous team: Harvard University (NCAA, Division 1)

International experience: Team Canada U-18 (2011-12), NWDT (2012-13, 2014-16), Four Nations Cup (2014, 15), Women's World Hockey Championships (2014-16)

Most likely Acceptable Locations: Calgary, Boston

Other profiles: Harvard Unversity, Today's Slapshot, EOTP


Cassandra Poudrier, Defence

Cassandra Poudrier courtesy CWHL

Captain of the Cornell Big Red this past season, Cassandra Poudrier was a fifth round draft pick for the Connecticut Whale in the NWHL 2015 draft.

Age: 23 Hometown: Mont-Laurier, QC

Previous team: Cornell University (NCAA, Division 1)

International experience: Team Canada U-18 (2009-10), NWDT (2011-13, 2014-16)

Most likely Acceptable Locations: Montreal, Boston

Other profiles: Cornell University, EOTP


Laura Stacey, Right Wing

Laura Stacey playing for Dartmouth College Big Green courtesy CWHL

Laura Stacey, captain of the Dartmouth Big Green this past season, counts as some sort of Toronto hockey royalty - her great grandfather was former Toronto Maple Leafs player and coach, King Clancy.

Age: 22 Hometown: Kleinburg, ON

Previous team: Dartmouth College (NCAA, Division 1)

International experience: Team Canada U-18 (2010-12), NWDT (2012-16)

Most likely Acceptable Locations: GTA, Boston

Other profiles: Dartmouth College, The Dartmouth


Claudia Tellez, Forward

Claudia Tellez in action during international competition courtesy CWHL

Claudia Tellez is the first Mexican player to join the CWHL, and the oldest player in this year's draft. It will be interesting to see how she fares against a much higher level of competition.

Age: 32 Hometown: Guadalajara, Mexico

Previous team: Mexican Women's National Team

International experience: Team Mexico Women's World Hockey Championships Division II B Qualifying (2013-14), Division II B (2014-16), Panamerican Festival (2014-16)

Most likely Acceptable Locations: GTA

Other profiles: Excelle Sports


Kayla Tutino, Forward

Kayla Tutino playing for Boston University courtesy CWHL

Kayla Tutino spent five seasons living in Boston as Habs fan, captaining the BU Terriers in her final season. Will she come home, or choose to stick it out in Boston?

Age: 23 Hometown: Montreal, QC

Previous team: Boston University (NCAA, Division 1)

Most likely Acceptable Locations: Montreal, Boston

Other profiles: Boston University